Tonight’s very, very disappointing vote.

I am beyond frustrated at the defeat of Bill C-398, yet another attempt to fix Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime, in Canadian parliament this evening. It’s a bill that has been the victim of partisan politics one too many times and its failure tonight comes at the expense of people living without access to HIV treatment. In a time where “AIDS-free generation” rhetoric is a dime a dozen, the “Harper” government is announcing new HIV research dollars, and the media can’t stop talking about how important it is for people to be on treatment, and 2.5 million deaths have been averted since 1995 because of treatment, how can all but seven Conservatives say no to a bill that “Canada’s brand-name drug manufacturers [are] not opposed to seeing progress through Parliament” days before World AIDS Day? Don’t even get me started on the fact that the Millennium Development Goals set universal access to HIV treatment as something to be achieved by 2010.  Today, we are only about halfway to that goal. 

Full-ish coverage of Bill C-398 from the Globe and Mail available here.

Short of leaving you all thinking that I am one to complain after the fact, I’ll leave you with the text of a letter (based on the form letters available from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, which, incidentally, does amazing work) that I sent to MP after MP in the lead up to tonight’s very, very disappointing vote, and a link to the first time I wrote about this same issue here on this blog.

Today, I urge you to seize the opportunity before you to fix Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) and make a significant contribution to overcoming this global tragedy. Fewer than half of those people in low- and middle-income countries who need AIDS drugs are able to get them. Despite an international commitment to achieving universal access to HIV medications by 2010 in the Millennium Development Goals, millions of people still do not have access to these medications.

More than eight years ago, every single Canadian parliamentarian voted to create CAMR, a law aimed at enabling the supply of more affordable, generic medicines to treat HIV and other public health problems. This law was a pledge by Canada to help respond to the health needs of the developing world. Indeed, it was an important initiative which set a global precedent.We urge you to act now to fix it by adopting the reforms proposed by Canadian treatment advocates, including the “one-licence solution” that will streamline and simplify the law so that generic medicines can be supplied quickly and easily, at competitive prices, in response to the evolving needs of developing countries.This is a concrete contribution you can make, as Canadian parliamentarians and leaders, to supporting developing countries struggling to turn the tide on the global AIDS crisis and address other public health needs of their people. Saving millions of lives is within our collective power. We ask that you do your part and help Canada deliver on its promise of affordable medicines for all.


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  1. Pingback: Treatment alone will not solve the HIV epidemic. « Everything I Learned

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